Social Media – A Listening Tool for Leaders

 

Submerged Rocks

 

Great leadership is a practice pondered by many. I believe that one of the most essential leadership practices is the ability to listen well.
Today’s technology offers leaders new tools for leading and communicating. Social Media is an excellent tool for the essential leadership practice of listening.

Social media allows for engagement with others, discussion, the exploration of ideas and collaboration . Best of all though, through social media leaders can get extended practice in listening. Through social media you can find out what people’s interests, needs and challenges are. Marketing professionals know this. Many educational leaders are finding this to be true. Many are talking about how important social media can be to improving their schools. Add social media use to your leadership practice and find out how to remove obstacles to learning with technology.

“Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
—  Thomas Paine

Listening via Social Media

As a central office technology administrator/technology director at a large archdiocesan school system, I found social media to be not only a great way to engage with people but a great way to listen carefully. I found social media avenues to be a great source of information for helping to find out what challenges people faced in incorporating technology into schools. Social media can help you learn about what obstacles stand in the way of teacher and student implementation of new strategies and new technologies. Additionally, social media can be a source of information about what you might want to consider adding or removing from your programs.

Social media is a great tool for the facilitative, listening leader. Facilitative Leadership means essentially creating an environment where employees can easily succeed. Facilitative Leadership is interactive, collaborative and connected.

In using a variety of social media and connecting to others via Twitter and Online Communities (via Ning) I found myself asking…

  • What can I do as a leader to remove obstacles?
  • What challenges do people face?
  • What do they need to know about the school/organizational mission or objectives?
  • What do they need to succeed?
  • How can communication be enhanced?
  • What can I do to empower teachers as they learn and implement new strategies, new technologies?
  • What are the ‘submerged rocks’ or obstacles and how do I help to remove them?

In listening via social media, I found some common threads on challenges faced. Below is a list of 7 items to remove. What others might you add?

Technology Leadership Checklist – 7 Obstacles to Remove

  1. Remove Obstacles to Quality Tech Support – Is tech help readily at hand? Make sure tech support help is always available.  One on one support is important.
  2. Remove Outdated Policies -Are your policies supportive of technology use? Do they encourage innovation?  If your policies are prohibiting uses of many websites, educational resources and tools, its time to seriously question the benefits vs. the cost of this practice.
  3. Remove Loose Ties – Can people easily explain how technology fits in to the overall mission of the school? Tie the uses of technology in your school/organization clearly to the vision, mission and objectives. Tie the the uses of the technology in your school to the academic goals.
  4. Remove Outdated Technology – Are you expecting success with equipment, software and peripherals that are not up to the job? Is internet slow and wireless capacity nil? Update on a regular basis. If you want people to use technology…Upgrade the technology!
  5. Remove Outmoded Professional Development – Is your mode of professional development relevant to today’s adult learners? Use online professional development options, differentiate professional development, and by all means – give teachers choice.
  6. Remove Obstacles to Collaboration – Do teachers have time to collaborate? Build in time for teachers to work together and share. Help them to develop a professional learning network of their own so that they can connect to new ideas, new practices.
  7. Remove Outmoded Thinking – Are YOU changing with the times?  Most people are not because put simply, it is hard to do. The world is changing rapidly. Learning about these changes and their impact on those in your school or organization is essential for leaders.

School and Technology Leaders can tap into many excellent uses of social media to connect and listen. Today’s new, social media makes this possible on a large scale.

This post is a post for Leadership Day 2011 as promoted by Scott McLeod.

Related Resources

Policies to Empower Learning

Communications Checklist for 21st Century Leaders

Facilitative Leadership

Emerging Technologies to Watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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